GUIZERIX: On faith, faults and footfalls

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Sometimes, I open my mouth and my father comes out.

Other times — most of the time — I run my mouth too soon and wish I had him there to tell me what to say.

Today marks one year since his passing, and in the last few weeks leading up to this horrid anniversary, I’ve spent a good deal of time thinking about his footsteps.

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I recall his footsteps in a makeshift backyard batter’s box, teaching me how to knock a baseball off of a tee. He took the yellowed toe of his right sneaker and traced it out in the soil so I could hit left-handed, like him, and scuffed ruts in the middle so I had a smooth surface on which to stand.

If I close my eyes really tight, I can hear his footfalls in the hunting woods. I can see my little feet sinking into the prints he left for me to tiptoe in along the red dirt road, so as not to spook any turkeys nearby.

And sometimes, when I’m back home, I can stand in the yard and see him walking with me hand-in-hand as we check on the fruit trees along the perimeter and the vegetable garden behind the old barn. At the beginning of summer, we’d save the red plum tree on the south side of the yard for last, since it bore the sweetest fruit.

Lately, I’ve craved a set of footsteps to guide my own, but have found none, forcing me to forge my own path. When I’m hurt by others or inspired, I often wish I could pick up the phone and lean on him, but he’s not there in the physical sense.  It’s made me tougher, at times a little more reckless than I once was, but I’m learning how to make it without him.

I accidentally sat in my dad’s recliner during my last trip home, and once I realized what I’d done, I sobbed. I didn’t cry as much as I thought I would when he died; in a way, I’d already grieved him since his diagnosis of Stage IV melanoma two-and-a-half years prior.

But now and then in the year since we lost him, it’s been hard to contain.

However, I’ve been blessed with a support system and the God-given grace to lean into this new normal.

If there’s anything to this column other than wallowing in the doldrums, it’s a nod of thanks to those who’ve gotten me through this first year and afforded kindnesses I wasn’t good at asking for on my own.

There will always be an empty space in my soul for my beloved father, but I’m learning to fill in the cracks with the love and friendship received from those around me in his absence and our heavenly Father — at least until we’re reunited at the pearly gates.